Will Monta Ellis Give the Indiana Pacers Offense a Boost?
In various ways, signing Monta Ellis, a near 20-point-per-game scorer, makes sense for the Indiana Pacers, a team that scored just 97.3 points per game (24th-worst in the NBA) in 2014-15.
Ellis has scored 19.3 points per game in his career, but it's no secret that he hasn't been an efficient player in the league.
So does this four-year, $44-million deal help the Pacers or not?
Beyond the Box Score
Ellis averaged 18.9 points per game with the Mavericks last year, making him one of just 24 players to do so. Among the 24, Ellis ranked just 20th in Effective Field Goal percentage (47.5%) and 23rd in True Shooting percentage (50.9%, better than only Kobe Bryant's atrocious 47.7%).
Ellis's Win Shares (3.6) tied for 19th with Chris Bosh, but the brand-new Pacer was 23rd in Win Shares per 48 minutes (0.065).
The per-game scoring looks good, but clearly, his inefficient shooting limited the impact of those 18.9 points per game.
For those reasons Ellis managed a nERD score, which indicates how many wins above or below .500 an average team would expect to finish with a given player as a starter, of -4.8. And it's not as though he had one inefficient season among plenty of solid ones.
Ellis has secured a positive nERD just once in his 10-year career -- 2007-08, when his nERD was 5.9. That was also the only year in his career that his Win Shares per 48 minutes surpassed 0.090 (it was 0.140).
And while there have been some narratives that Ellis has become a more willing passer, his Assist Percentage this year ranked sixth highest in his career, as he assisted on 20.5% of teammate baskets while on the floor.
This isn't to say that he didn't benefit the Mavericks offense at all, though. The team maintained an Effective Field Goal percentage of 52.2% with him on the floor this year compared to a mark of 49.8% without him, and the Mavs scored 1.3 more points per 100 possessions with Ellis (109.7) than without him (108.4).
Then again, his defensive impact -- despite his usually impressive steal numbers -- was non-existent. The Mavericks secured a Defensive Rating of 106.2 with Ellis on the floor and of 106.3 without him, which means that, all told, he was worth about a point per every 100 possessions for Dallas last year when combining his offensive and defensive presence.
Worth the Contract?
Of course, we can't say whether the deal makes sense or not without some sort of context, but there are thankfully two guards who have roughly the same deal as Ellis signed. And by roughly, I mean that Tyreke Evans signed a four-year deal worth $44,000,004 with the Kings, according to Spotrac. The other player also has a four-year, $44 million deal: Stephen Curry.
Burks played in just 27 games this year for the Jazz and secured a nERD of -0.4. Evans (-2.1) and Holiday (1.1) were still better effeciency-wise overall (based on nERD) than Ellis was during their time on the floor with the Pelicans last year. (And in case you're curious, Curry led the NBA in nERD at 20.5).
At the end of the day, Ellis will be able to put points on the board for the Pacers, and that's really what this agreement was about. However, expecting him to increase his efficiency is not a smart bet, as he has a combined -6.9 nERD in his two seasons with the Mavericks, who have ranked inside the top five in Offensive Rating in each of those seasons.
The Pacers might notch a few more points per game, but unless Ellis changes his ways, Indiana might continue to live outside the top 20 in Offensive Rating in 2015-16.